Khabarovsk is a city on the Amur River in the Russian Far East, very close to the Chinese border. Unlike Vladivostok, Khabarovsk has never been closed to foreigners, which is why it retains a distinct international feel, rare for the Russian provincial centres. Its lands have been populated for centuries by the indigenous Tungusic people, and in the mid-17th century became the scene of hostilities between the Russian Cossacks, trying to expand into the region, and the Chinese, invested on securing the region for itself. Nearly a century of skirmishes followed, one of those involving Russian explorer Yerofey Khabarov, whose name the city later adapted. The Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) ended the conflict and made the area an undisputed part of the Chinese Qing Empire. Then, in 1858, the area was ceded to Russia under the Treaty of Aigun.
Why you should stop there
Often overlooked because of its proximity to Vladivostok, Khabarovsk could easily be a highlight in the long line of predominately dull cities along the Trans-Siberian. Its attractive parks, beaches, outdoor beer tents with live music, and classic architecture make it an enjoyable stop.
UTC +10 (= Moscow +7)
How to get around
There are two kinds of transport in Khabarovsk: trams and trolleybuses are operated by local transit authority, while marshrutkas are all private. Buses are split between the two. While the fares are mostly equal, municipal vehicles have a timetable which can usually be found at the bus stop while private buses do not and stop circulating when it gets unprofitable.
Still, Khabarovsk is a relatively compact city, and at times using your feet is the quickest method of transport.
What to see
Walk on Muraviev-Amursky. You can walk on the main avenue from Lenin Square to the Amur River and you’ll find all sorts of shops and places to eat.
Cathedral of the Transfiguration (Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral). Located on Lenin street. this golden domed church was only completed in 2004 and it’s the 3rd tallest church in Russia.
Dynamo Park. Located on the 62 South side of ulitsa Karla Marksa, this park spreads over 30 hectares and is very popular among locals on sunny days.
The Vyborg Market (Vyborgskaya ulitsa). It’s a huge and very lively market, with not only local Russians but also a visible example of the proximity to China, with many Chinese traders selling imported products of every variety.
Kakadu Hostel (Khabarovsk Sheronova Building 10, price around 10 EUR/night).
The River Promenade is full of open air cafes and bars in large tents, best for spending summer nights.